Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Mother's Lap

My seven-year-old is outgrowing some of his books, most of which we’ve had for over 20 years. One last time, I leaf through these wonderful and familiar books, read and loved by all three children. I remember the lovely hours spent with a child on my lap reading. We all acknowledge the power and benefits of reading to our children, but add in the lap component and magic happens. We’re donating some of the books to our local library, but there are some classics I’ll hang onto even when my last chick has left the nest, and Dr. Seuss is among them.

Earlier this month, schools across the country celebrated ‘Cat in the Hat Day’ in honor of Theodor Seuss Geisel, our beloved Dr. Seuss. As a child, he too was introduced to the love of reading and words on his mother’s lap. She read and recited rhymes to him; in fact, he credited her with his ability and desire to create his famous and well-known rhymes.

Brilliant and playful, Dr. Seuss changed the nature of children’s books and helped four generations of children learn to read. His stories march at a rhythmic pace, full of tongue-twisters, word play, inventive vocabulary, and imaginative hybrid beasts. Even after his death in 1991, Dr. Seuss continues to be the best-selling author of children's books in the world. I always enjoyed reading his stories as much as my children loved hearing them. I’ve heard reading his books described as an amusement park for your mouth! Isn’t it nice to know you’re never too old to read a Dr. Seuss book?

And now we’ve come full-circle. As Ted Geisel learned to love words and rhymes on his mother’s lap, I’m hoping to impart similar lessons to my children on my lap. Read-aloud time is always a special experience marked off from ordinary by a parent's lap and a Dr. Seuss book. Corban may be outgrowing some of his books, but with many stories to be told and lessons to be shared, even at seven, he still fits perfectly in my lap.

13 comments:

TheWritersPorch said...

Peggy....reading to your children is one of the greatest gifts you can give them! I still have my first editions( only because I had loaned them to a neighbor when my house burned) of Winnie The Pooh and others I read to my children.
Carol

willow said...

Dr. Seuss books were always a joy when the kids where growing up. They always called WT "The Lorax" because of his love of trees!

Delwyn said...

Hi Bee, My oldest children are in their late 20s and thirties and I have kept their most treasured books, but now give all my novels to the local library as a contribution to the community.
There would not be many western kids not raised on a reading diet of Dr Seuss.

Derrick said...

Hi Peggy,

I obviously had a blighted childhood because I haven't read, or had read to me, any Dr Seuss books! Enid Blyton, Billy Bunter and The Famous Five books are (dim) memories!

If you can give a child a love of books and reading, I agree you are giving a lifelong gift.

Bee said...

I still read to my 11 yo daughter most nights -- she loves it! As for Dr. Seuss, I read his work to the little boys that I tutor . . . and my parents still have the well-thumbed, well-loved copies from my brother's and my childhood!

Meri Arnett-Kremian said...

When my son was in middle school, there were summer reading lists that had to be completed. He was too big to sit in my lap, of course, but loved having me read a chapter or two of those required books before he fell asleep. And that way, I didn't have to nag him about getting the books read. One of the many books was called "Two Old Women," and another -- title forgotten -- was written from the point of view of the daughter of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce. Both were wonderful.

steviewren said...

I saved some of my children's favorite books and now my grandchildren are reading them. I still have my beloved Nancy Drew books so it was natural for me to save my kid's favorites.

Peggy said...

Steviewren, I still have my Nancy Drew books, too. What an incredible gift those were to me so many years ago. I think I feel another Nancy Drew post percolating! :)

sizzie said...

Ah, we speak the same language. : ) When my children were too old for lap reading, I checked out plays from the library and we all read our parts aloud. It wasn't the same, but it helped prolong my part in their reading life.

neetzy said...

Dr. Seuss was magical. I remember reading his books over and over when I was little. He instilled in me an early appreciation of the rhythm of language. I believe he also illustrated all of his books. I love the magical worlds he created.

Peggy said...

Carol, what a treasure those books are, especially because they survived the loss of your library.

Willow, "The Lorax"! That is great!

Derrick, go to the library and get "The Cat in the Hat" and "Green Eggs and Ham" immediately! It's never to late to read Dr. Seuss!

Bee, isn't it true that children love to be read to even after they learn how to read by themselves?! I was reading to my daughter and son during read-aloud time into their teens. In fact, I sniffled my way through "Where the Red Fern Grows" more than once with them clustered around me!

Peggy said...

Meri, he'll never forget that time spent with you. Lovely memory. Thanks for sharing!

Sizzie, what a wonderful idea! I'll have to remember that one.

Neetzy, Geisel did indeed illustrate his books. He wrote a for a newspaper before becoming an author of children's books, and he did a lot of political cartoons at that time. It's funny to see Grinch-lookalikes in political satire!

Carson said...

Hey, Peggy! You know what, my son likes it when I read Dr. Seuss' books to him, especially if it's Horton Hears A Who! Clearly, children can learn myriad things from his works and from reading in general. Since technology has been a huge part in educating our youth, I also use WordSmart. Complaints may exist, but in the end, it's in the way people use the program. People may come up with issues about a WordSmart scam, but we can't deny that there are countless satisfied people out there, and I'm one of them.